The BEAMISH hot water drill system and its use on the Rutford Ice Stream, Antarctica
During the 2018/19 Antarctic field season, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Basal conditions on Rutford Ice Stream: BEd Access, Monitoring and Ice Sheet History’ (BEAMISH) project drilled three holes through the Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica. At up to 2154 m, these are the deepest hot water drilled subglacial access holes yet created, enabling the recovery of sediment from the subglacial environment, and instrumenting the ice stream and its bed. The BEAMISH hot-water drill system was built on extensive experience with the BAS ice shelf hot-water drill and utilises many identical components. With up to 1 MW of heating power available, the hot water drill produces 140 L min−1 of water at 85°C to create a 300 mm diameter access hole to the base of the ice stream. New systems and processes were developed for BEAMISH to aid critical aspects of deep access drilling, most notably the creation of cavities interlinking boreholes at 230 m below the surface and enabling water recirculation throughout the deep drilling operations. The modular design of the BEAMISH drill offers many benefits in its adaptability, redundancy, and minimal logistical footprint. These design features can easily accommodate the modifications needed for future deep, clean access hole creation in the exploration of subglacial environments.
Authors: Anker, Paul G.D. ORCID record for Paul G.D. Anker, Makinson, Keith ORCID record for Keith Makinson, Nicholls, Keith W. ORCID record for Keith W. Nicholls, Smith, Andrew M. ORCID record for Andrew M. Smith